Matt Ridley argues that, through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, "ideas having sex with each other."

Why you should listen

British author Matt Ridley knows one thing: Through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, the mating of ideas. The sophistication of the modern world, says Ridley, lies not in individual intelligence or imagination; it is a collective enterprise. In his book The Rational Optimist, Ridley (whose previous works include Genome and Nature via Nurture) sweeps the entire arc of human history to powerfully argue that "prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else."

It is our habit of trade, idea-sharing and specialization that has created the collective brain which set human living standards on a rising trend. This, he says, "holds out hope that the human race will prosper mightily in the years ahead -- because ideas are having sex with each other as never before."

Watch his 2010 TEDTalk, "When Ideas Have Sex."

What others say

"Ridley systematically builds a case through copious data and countless studies that “the vast majority of people are much better fed, much better sheltered, much better entertained, much better protected against disease and much more likely to live to old age than their ancestors have ever been."" — Scientific American

Matt Ridley’s TED talks

Matt Ridley on the TED Blog

TEDGlobal 2010

When ideas have sex: Matt Ridley on TED.com

July 14, 2010

At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is. (Recorded at TEDGlobal 2010, July 2010 in Oxford, UK. […]

Continue reading

Quotes from Matt Ridley

How did we become the only species that becomes more prosperous as it becomes more populous?
Matt Ridley
TEDGlobal 2010 • 1.7M views Jul 2010
Fascinating, Inspiring
Trade is 10 times as old as farming.
Matt Ridley
TEDGlobal 2010 • 1.7M views Jul 2010
Fascinating, Inspiring
You can have culture without exchange. You can have, as it were, asexual culture.
Matt Ridley
TEDGlobal 2010 • 1.7M views Jul 2010
Fascinating, Inspiring